Global Commission on Science Missions for Sustainability

The Global Commission, comprising over twenty dedicated experts ranging from former ministers and financiers to research leaders and filmmakers, is committed to developing actionable mission-led science pathways in response to existential risks facing humanity and the planet.

Global Commission on Science Missions for Sustainability

Meeting the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and securing a just and sustainable future will depend on a massive mobilization of sustainability science globally.

To rise to the challenge of acting effectively in the face of existential risks, the ISC report Unleashing Science: Delivering Missions for Sustainability,  developed at the request of the Global Forum of Funders   called for the best of global science to focus on delivering Science Missions in the critical areas of food, energy and climate, health and wellbeing, water, and urban areas.

While science has done a lot to advance the human condition over the last hundred years, science now needs a quantum shift in how it works together with society and policy on the many issues that need to be addressed with urgency. This calls for courage, and it calls for commitment Delivering these missions will require bold and strategic action from a ‘Coalition of the Willing’– including governments, science policymakers, science funders, scientists, philanthropists, the private sector, and civil society.

To identify the most appropriate institutional arrangements and funding mechanisms required to co-construct and deliver on the Science Missions for Sustainability, the International Science Council has established a Global Commission on Science Missions for Sustainability.

The Global Commission is co-chaired by Irina Bokova, former Bulgarian Foreign Minister and Director General of UNESCO, and Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and previous administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. The Commission is made up of more than twenty committed experts, from former ministers and financiers to research leaders and film makers, and aims to build actionable mission-led pathways in the face of existential risks to humanity. The work of the commission was supported by a Technical Advisory Group (TAG).

The Global Commission and the TAG developed two flagship reports that were launched at the 2023 UN High-level Political Forum and endorsed by the President of the UN General Assembly: 

COVID-19 has shown what the science community can do when it comes together and focuses on a mission. We need a mission-led approach to science and to accelerate actionable progress on many aspects of the sustainability agenda. The ISC has understood the need for change, and I am delighted to assist them in the critical endeavour. The global community must work together to support this effort. The ISC has identified a credible path forward: we can make the necessary changes happen. Let’s just get going.

Helen Clark, Commission Co-Chair, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand, and Administrator of UNDP

Science is a critical lever for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. To make the societal transition towards sustainability, we need to unleash the full potential of science. Only an urgent, more ambitious and well-resourced global plan for international, mission-oriented set of scientific initiatives can ensure that science is up to the task to effectively support the Goals of Agenda 2030. And I’m looking forward to working with the members of the Global Commission to undertake this challenging but very critical task.

Irina Bokova, Commission Co-Chair, Former Director-General of UNESCO 

Co-chairs and members of the Global Commission


Helen Clark

Former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Administrator of UNDP

Irina Bokova

Former Director-General of UNESCO


Abdulsalam Al-Murshidi

President of Omani Investment Authority, Oman

Albert van Jaarsveld

Member of the TAG, Director-General of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Austria

Beatrice Weder di Mauro

President of Centre for Economic Policy Research, CEPR, Professor of International Economics at the Graduate Institute, Switzerland

Bernard Sabrier

Chairman of Unigestion and the CEO of Unigestion Asia Pte Ltd, Switzerland

Huadong Guo

Professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, China

Heide Hackmann

Interim Director, Future Africa; Advisor on Transdisciplinarity and Global Knowledge Networks, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Hiroshi Komiyama

Chairman of the Science and Technology in Society Forum

Ismail Serageldin

Founding Director of the Library of Alexandria, Egypt

Izabella Teixeira

Former Minister of Environment, co-chair of the International Resource Panel, Brazil

James Cameron

Filmmaker, Canada

Jeremy Farrar

Director of Wellcome, UK

Julie Wrigley

Founding Benefactor and co-chair, Global Futures Laboratory, Co-founder and co-chair Global Institute of Sustainability, USA

Johan Rockström

Joint Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany

Macharia Kamau

Principal Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Trade at Government, Kenya

Magdalena Skipper

Editor in Chief, Nature, UK

Maria Leptin

President of the European Research Council, Germany

Martin Rees

Co-founder of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, UK

Naledi Pandor

Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, South Africa

Pamela A. Matson

Director of Stanford University Change Leadership for Sustainability Program, USA

Peter Gluckman

President of the International Science Council, New Zealand

Thomas Hughes-Hallett

Chair of John Innes Centre and Founder Marshall Institute for Philanthropy, London

Yuan T. Lee

Former President of ICSU and of the Academy of Sciences located in Taipei, Nobel laureate

Salvatore Aricò

CEO, International Science Council

Technical Advisory Group (TAG) of the Global Commission


Pamela A. Matson

Co-chair of the TAG, member of the Global Commission, Director of Stanford University Change Leadership for Sustainability Program

Albert van Jaarsveld

Co-chair of the TAG, member of the Global Commission, Director-General of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis


Alan Bernstein

President and CEO of CIFAR, one of Canada’s leading scientists of health and cancer, founding president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Connie Nshemereirwe

Director of the Africa Science Leadership Programme, former Co-Chair for the Global Young Academy

Ian Goldin

Professor of Globalisation and Development at the University of Oxford

Ingrid Petersson

Director General of Formas – the Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development

Lorrae Van Kerkhoff

Professor and Director of the Institute for Water Futures and Associate Director Staff Development at the Fenner School Of Environment and Society, at the Australian National University

Maria Ivanova

Associate Professor of Global Governance and Director of the Center for Governance and Sustainability, University of Massachusetts Boston

William Clark

Harvey Brooks Research Professor of International Science, Public Policy and Human Development at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government

Zakri Abdul Hamid

Chairman of Atri Advisory, Ambassador and Science Advisor, Campaign for Nature (CFN), Professor Emeritus

Barend Mons

President of CODATA, Scientific director of GO FAIR Foundation, Professor of Human Genetics Department – LUMC

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